Global Tea Status – NATC And Beyond

G l o b a l T e a S t a t u s N A T C A n d B e y o n d

The recent North American Tea Conference provided opportunity for further perspective on the role of China’s tea in the global and US markets. By combining data from the ITC, the China Tea Marketing Association, the Tea Association of the US, and the USDA FAS, we see:


  • Having surpassed India’s tea production levels in the early 2000s, China’s production is almost double that of India
  • China alone produced about 40% of global tea in 2019
  • About one-third of global tea produced in 2019 was green
  • China produced about 1.5 million tonnes of green tea and less than 1 million tonnes of black tea in 2019


  • China exports about 12-15% of its annual production
  • Around 83% of China’s annual tea exports are green teas
  • About 4% of total exports (or 0.5% of total annual production) are exported to the US
  • The US is #8 in volume and #6 in value as China’s tea export destination


  • Argentina is the largest country of origin exporter by volume (based on ITC)
  • 2020 YTD tea imports to the US roughly break down as 84.7% black, 15.3% green
  • China is the largest country of origin exporter by value, accounting for 18% of all tea import value
  • 2020 green tea imports are down by 10.6% across all importers, including a 15.2% decline from China
  • 2020 black tea imports are down by 12.7% across all importers, including 42.7% and 16.3% declines from China and Argentina

Even though tea has seen declines in 2020, there is still room for a twist of fate. Historic trends during widespread health concerns reveal impressive spikes in the sales of healthier beverages – especially teas. This tendency towards tea, combined with the powers or online delivery and private grocery brands makes for a trifecta in improved tea performance.